Magnetic fluctuations due to thermally excited Alfvén waves

Y. Z. Agim, S. C. Prager

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Magnetic fluctuations resulting from the thermally excited magnetohydrodynamic waves are investigated using fluid and kinetic models to describe a stable, uniform, compressible plasma in the range above the drift wave frequency and below the ion cyclotron frequency. It is shown that the fluid model with resistivity yields spectral densities that are roughly Lorentzian and exhibit equipartition with no apparent cutoff in wavenumber space and a Bohm-type diffusion coefficient. Under certain conditions, the ensuing transport may be comparable to classical values. For a phenomenological cutoff imposed on the spectrum, the typical fluctuating-to-equilibrium magnetic field ratio is found to be of the order of 10-10. Physical mechanisms to obtain decay profiles of the spectra with increasing wavenumber as a result of dispersion and/or different forms of damping are investigated analytically in a cold fluid approximation and numerically, with a kinetic model. The mode dispersion resulting from the finite ion gyro-frequency is identified as the leading effect determining the spectral profile shapes. It is found that the amplitude of fluctuations may be within a factor of the value suggested by the cold plasma model. The results from both models are presented and compared in low- and high-beta regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1149
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Fluids B
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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